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  • Meg O'Connell

Disability, Accessibility vs. the Plastic Straw


A few months ago, it seemed you couldn’t be on social media without seeing or engaging in the plastic straw debate.


Environmentalists want to eliminate it as a staple in restaurants and grocery stores, in an effort to reduce pollution in our oceans and the deadly impact on sea life. People with disabilities have had a loud voice about its need for enabling access to food and water, and knowing a straw is readily available is critical.


Our HQ is located in the coastal city of St. Augustine, Florida. So, the debate is prime time with our City Council. The discussions also include eliminating single use plastic bags, and all forms of Styrofoam.


Recently, I was at an outdoor show and a sales rep, Gavin Rains, showed me the above pictured silicone straw. Given all the buzz on the issue I wanted to learn more. The straw made by Silistraws comes in two sizes, 9 inch or 10.5 inch, and you can get an extra thick version. The straw comes with a squeegee for cleaning and is obviously flexible and easily portable.


Previous discussions about the use of silicone or plastic straws have presented the below (abbreviated) list of pros and cons.



So, we wanted to know more and decided to hit the Twitterverse to see what our 12K followers thought on the issue. Below is a snapshot of the results.



Bottom line, this is an issue that needs some attention. Over 75% of those that took our survey opted for some type of change – whether that was no straw, to a silicone or paper straw, or restaurants not assuming you need one and just bringing it in your drink. It is interesting to see that the responses were pretty evenly split.


As a project manager, I work with companies to guide them through transition towards achieving their diversity goals. The formula begins with finding common ground from which to build upon, and then applies a holistic approach which includes assessment, strategy development and implementation, all while navigating the bumps along the way in order to establish a sustainable program built to last.


The “Straw/No Straw” issue can be approached in much the same way, and will require transition by all parties involved.


Based on the results of the Twitter poll, I think we can all agree that it would be good to reduce the number of plastic straws, even though there are differences as to how to achieve the objective/goal.


This common objective provides us an opportunity to acknowledge, learn from and build upon what we already have in common.


Now that we have found common ground, perhaps we begin the transition where you are.


If you are open to paper or silicone and want to bring your own, here is where you can get them.....https://www.silipint.com/c/silicone-straws/


Or if you are not ready to purchase your own....decline it at a restaurant, or when you order your drink tell them no straw is necessary.


In either case, as my sales rep, Gavin said, “We are making one small choice to help clean up the landfills and waterways all around the world.”

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